Robert Destro, currently responsible for the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor for the US State Department, appointed as the new U.S. special envoy for Tibet. Photo: File

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Washington, DC — The government of the United States of America has appointed a new special coordinator for the issues of Tibet, sending a powerful message of hope and solidarity to the Tibetans inside Tibet.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has named Robert A. Destro, the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), to also serve as special coordinator for Tibetan issues.

"I am pleased to announce the concurrent designation of Assistant Secretary Robert A. Destro of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to serve as the United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues," the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a statement.

"Consistent with the Tibetan Policy Act, Special Coordinator Destro will lead U.S. efforts to promote dialogue between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Dalai Lama or his representatives; protect the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of Tibetans; and press for their human rights to be respected," Secretary Pompeo further said.

The US Assistant Secretary of State Robert A. Destro "also will support U.S. efforts to address the humanitarian needs of Tibetan refugees and to promote sustainable economic development and environmental conservation in Tibetan communities on the plateau," the statement reads.

The US Secretary of State further added that "The United States remains concerned with the PRC’s repression of the Tibetan community, including the lack of meaningful autonomy, the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas, and severe restrictions on Tibetans’ religious freedom and cultural traditions within China."

"Special Coordinator Destro will engage Tibetan leaders and international partners and experts to address these issues. He also will carry forward the Department’s engagement with and support for Tibet’s global diaspora and their many courageous advocates for the protection of human rights, including the freedom of religion or belief," Secretary Pompeo added.

Destro is the sixth U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. Sara Sewall (2014-2017), Maria Otero (2009-2013), Paula Dobriansky (2001-2009) , the late Julia Taft (1999-2001) and Gregory Craig (1997-1999) also served in this position.

Over the past 70 decades, there has been ongoing political repression, social discrimination, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation, particularly due to Chinese migration to Tibet which is fueling intense resentment among the people of occupied Tibet.

The communist-totalitarian state of China began its invasion of Tibet in 1949, reaching complete occupation of the country in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation's population of six million, have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet's six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.

Until 1949, Tibet was an independent nation in the Himalayas which had little contact with the rest of the world. It existed as a rich cultural storehouse — unifying theme among the Tibetans — as was their own language, literature, art, and world view developed by living at high altitudes, under harsh conditions, in a balance with their environment.